Court in the Action

by adam.bettison 6. May 2010 04:46

Spent a bit of time in Perth Magistrates Court today representing a rental property owner in a tenancy matter. Long-term landlords, or owners of say five or more investment properties, will know that doing some court time is not a matter of when, but how often. At Perth Court you have the extra bonus of going through the metal detectors, and handing in any cameras or recording devices (I thought we had an open legal system?). Then off to the waiting rooms, where you will usually spend much more time waiting than actually being in court. Seating can sometimes be tight, and it is not unusual to be stuck for an hour opposite the tenant you are trying to evict. Being a veteran of these things, I plan ahead with a copy of the West, the Financial Review and for multiple sessions the Australian. That way the tenant can rant, rave and fume in the waiting room while I calmly digest the share prices. For the people-watchers, there are four distinct groups of people in the residential tenancy waiting rooms: 1. The Owners - usually aged from mid-30's upwards, the owners have a look of frustration as they struggle through the cumbersome legal system and are amazed at how hard it is to get rid of a belligerent thief from their own property. Owners can often be spotted sitting next to 2. The Property Managers - usually females from mid-20's to mid-30's, they are wearing business clothes and clutching a bunch of files that look filled before their time (chock a block with warning letters, breach letters and termination notices). The property managers occasionally steal a glance at 3. The Tenants - aged from late teens to their forties, the tenants can often (but not always) be distinguished by (STEREOTYPE WARNING) their scraggly clothes, strollers with cordial-filled water bottles falling out, lack of paperwork, swearing, and disappearing for smoke breaks. The tenants are usually attended upon by 4. The Do Gooders, social workers and tenants advisory service people, generally looking like school teachers or similar, fluttering between tenants (they might be helping more than one!), helping non-paying tenants to stay in their owner's properties, and often funded by the Government (ie your taxes).  Next time you are in tenancy court, help the time go faster by looking out for each of these 4 people groups, and post a comment if you think I have got it all wrong.  Oh, and here is the big secret about tenancy court - often the tenants dont even bother to show up!

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